Mmm. Interesting. What are my worst symptoms? That’s a tough question to answer. Feeling like death every day, lack of ability to concentrate, restlessness, depersonalisation, bouts of anger which I turn in against myself; either caring far too much about things or not caring at all. Feeling like I am composed of a series of broken switches, none of which is sparking properly. Not being (or rather not feeling) a valid human being whatever one of those is. No sleep. Exhaustion. Life looks like one big pointless empty space.
A friend who was diagnosed with a physical disease said however horrendous the disease was and the treatments, it was easier to deal with than depression. People who suffer with mental health issues – who then also get physcial ailments – are dealing with both things together.
Anger is a tricky one. Some aspects of anger are positive. There wouldn’t be any charitable causes if people didn’t get angry about poverty. Without anger, women would never have got the vote; without anger no-one would ever have taken a stand against racial inequality. But it has negative destructive sides as well. Keeping that under control is important.
What do I do when I feel this way? I don’t drink alcohol nor do I take any medication. That’s my choice and my decision for my own life. But there are things I can do for myself – exercise is a big one. I belong to a local gym and go at least three times a week. I try and avoid too much screen time when I feel this way which is hard as we are all wired these days and writers spend half their lives on the internet. I have my books, my writing. I used to buy books every time I got depressed but then found I was struggling to afford it. Safe to say I have a lot of books! And music too of course. I listen to loads of classical music. I often listen to my favourite band the Manic Street Preachers. Although their lyrics are so full of existential angst I’m not sure why it’s therapeutic listening to them I just know that for me, it is.
Family is important. Sometimes I call my wonderful children who give meaning to my life. I chant too. But one of the best ways of making myself feel better is to stop thinking about my own stuff and do something to help someone else. Not always easy but it works everytime. I think one of the problems with depressive illness is its tendency to isolate the sufferer. This is a trap which is to be avoided at all costs, because talking and being with other people is always constructive if you allow it to be.